Trump presidency inspires art community, despite possible funding cuts

Photo by Kellyann Cameron '17

Photo by Kellyann Cameron '17


The biggest political upset in United States history, according to Maxwell Tani, a reporter for Business Insider, was the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Evidence from Election Day such as social media posts and broadcasts corroborate this conclusion, as does media coverage in the days following the event. Indeed, protests across the internet and televised media surged as people around the globe expressed concern about his intentions and his ability to lead the U.S. On Jan. 21, people took to the streets to protest the newly-inaugurated president and his administration, primarily by peaceful means. 

Protesters seem not to be ready to welcome into power a man who, as evidenced by his Twitter posts, private words and campaign speeches, personally ridicules disabled people, rejects many immigrants and sexualizes and commodifies women. On Feb. 4, in reaction to the judiciary’s response to his executive order that established a ban on arrivals to the U.S. from seven countries, President Trump tweeted, “Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision.” 

The Boston Globe reports that President Trump also intends to cease funding the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is an independent federal agency “whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations,and develop their creative capacities,” according to their website. Abolishing the NEA would impact arts communities in nearly every state by reducing the NEA partners’ ability to hold arts events, conserve and buy art and support local artists. Brian Darling, a former aide to Rand Paul told The Hill, “The Trump Administration needs to reform and cut spending dramatically, and targeting waste like the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be a good first step in showing that the Trump Administration is serious about radically reforming the federal budget.” 

While Trump reportedly plans to rid America of the NEA, his campaign and presidency have inspired artistic responses. On Jan. 21, artists in Los Angelos initiated what the New York Times called an “Art Strike” downtown, closing their doors and turning the area into a ghost town for the day. Though President Trump has yet to make any official statement on the potential cuts, the Maine Arts Commission is preemptively aiming itself against any reduction to its $500,000 of NEA funding, according to Portland Press Herald. Executive director of the commission, Julie Richard said to the Herald, “ It’s not a call to action yet, because there isn’t anything out there to act upon. But we want to be mindful of the situation in case we do need to mobilize the field.” 

“Occupy Museums,” another event organized in light of Trump’s election, illustrates this arts movement. The Whitney Museum in NYC hosted a free-to-the-public open-speech platform, held as the inauguration was taking place. Many attendees expressed the need to “be together,” according to Hyperallergic. 

The Women’s Marches in Boston and Washington were mobilized to serve a similar purpose. People gathered to don self-made pussy hats and signs with creative and powerful statements. 

Fueled by unrest and a general dissatisfaction with the powers-that-be, women have taken to the streets dressed as giant vaginas, while artists even outside the United States have taken to promoting anti-Trump messages. With the upcoming Science March, some advocates of the cause at Mount Holyoke College have connected over Facebook and committed themselves to creating and selling supportive garments. Caedyn Busche ’17 is currently in the process of making ‘brain hats’ for others, which are skull caps fashioned to cover the head with tubular brain-trails.